THE LAST time Samantha Womack was on the Glasgow stage her face was plastered in white make up, her countenance as stiff as a dead goldfish.

It was perfect for the cold laughs she achieved as Morticia in The Addams Family.

This week however, former Eastenders star Sam won’t be looking for laughs at all.

In fact, the role she’s about to play on stage is “hard going and not fun at all.”

Sam is starring in The Girl On The Train, the stage adaptation of the novel by Paula Hawkins, which was made into a film starring Emily Blunt.

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It’s the story of commuter Rachel Watson who, from the train sees into the lives of a couple and uncovers something shocking.

But her version of events is disbelieved because Rachel is a chronic alcoholic whose own life is a train crash.

“This is a hard core role.,” says Sam.

“It’s emotionally quite draining. And on top of that I’m never off the stage.”

Sam hasn’t played such a role before.

“She is fractured. And the play is much closer to the book. It’s much darker than the film.

“It really captures the darkness in her mind, the gaps in her memory.

“It’s all so dramatic and as an actress you have so much more of a personal connection to reach.

“You get to see her fantasies, and the attempts she makes to reconstruct her memory, the times she’s so disorientated (after the blackouts) all reconstructed on stage. It’s really clever.”

When an actor plays a comedy role on stage, you would imagine they can take some of that joy home with them.

Is the opposite true?

When you’re playing a snot-filled, terrified, angry, confused creature is it hard to leave her behind at the stage door?

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“Yes. So when I come up for a bow at the end I sort of have this relationship with the audience that tells me it’s over

“I know I need to disassociate myself from this character so during the bow I smile and try to make this a definite full stop.”

Sam realises she can’t be too solitary after the show.

“I go to the bar for a drink with friends. It’s really good to break that pattern.”

There is little doubt Sam Womack has the talent to convince as the wrecked woman who’s life runs from one chaotic moment to another.

She also brings a massive amount of life experience.

The Londoner has been in the public eye since the age of 18 when she sang at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Young Samantha Janus, as she was, often lived with her grandmother during holidays and when her parents, musician father Noel and actor mother Diana O’Hanlon, split.

But this was no ordinary granny; this was a showbiz granny who worked on the QE2 as a choreographer.

Little Sam’s bunk was in the bowels of the ship.

“My grandmother was the reason I went to theatre school when I was 15.”

Acting roles in the likes of The Bill followed, and she landed the coveted role of Sandy in Grease in the West End.

Then in the mid-1990s, she became a household name as the fun-loving Mandy Wilkins in BBC Two sitcom, Game On.

In 2007, big fame arrived when the actor was cast as Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders, becoming part of a TV family so dysfunctional viewers assumed they were directly related to Satan.

Sam’s own love story is a complicated one. Both she and Mark Womack were married to other people when they met, and their splits made the newspapers.

Read more: Eastenders star Nigel Harman on why Glengarry Glen Ross allows him to find the darkness

But now Sam and husband Mark have three children. How do they take to their mum standing on the edge of a theatre cliff each night?

She offers a knowing grin.

“My son, who’s 18, watched the film and said ‘My god, mum. Why would you want to play a lunatic like that?’

“But my daughter, at 14, has been in the dressing room with me and sees it all, the blood being applied, everything.

“She is very supportive. And very sweet.”

Sam adds; “You don’t know what it will be like when you read the script the for this play.

“ I was excited. I’d just come from doing a musical (South Pacific) and singing every night, which is quite demanding.

“I’d wake up every day and have to warm up my voice

“But I hadn’t appeared in a part so dark as this so I loved the idea of it and playing someone who is lost, and so vulnerable.”

It’s a world away from playing Sandy in Grease in the West End?

“Yes, I played her for a year, but I was in my early twenties and I sort of rebelled against that part given she was so sickly sweet,” she says, grinning.

“You have to learn how to manage the character that can take over tour life.”

She breaks into a laugh; “Sometimes you need to get out of your head.”

Sam has a month off soon. That will mean no crying.

“Oh, I’ll still be crying,” she says, laughing. “Every day when I look at the state of my son’s room.”

The Girl On The Train also stars Coronation Street’s Oliver Farnworth, the Theatre Royal, April 15-20.